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FAQ's on Illinois Commercial Litigation

What is commercial litigation?

Commercial law is a broad area of law that covers most types of business, commerce, and consumer transactions. The complexity of this area may vary greatly from complicated international commercial and business transactions to partnership agreements in local businesses. When disputes arise from these transactions, commercial law governs. When the parties involved are incapable of coming to a resolution through negotiation and settlement, the parties may engage in commercial litigation in state and federal court.

What are examples of commercial litigation topics?

Below are examples of business disputes which may require commercial litigation:

  • Partnership and shareholder disputes
  • government contract disputes
  • international trade issues and anti trust matters
  • consumer fraud and consumer protection issues
  • securities litigation
  • unfair competition
  • interference with contract or business relationships
  • intellectual property

What law governs commercial litigation disputes?

Both the state and federal governments may regulate commercial law and litigation. As a result of the growing prevalence of business transactions between persons from different states, there came a growing desire for uniformity of state commercial code laws. In response, the Uniform Commercial Code was created to provide guidelines to states. Although the Uniform Commercial Code is not law, most states have adopted the Uniform Commercial Code as their state law. This allows actors from different states to engage in national commerce with a better sense of what to expect from different state with regards to their commercial laws.

When is commercial litigation necessary?

Commercial litigation takes place when a business or two businesses can't resolve a dispute. These lawsuits can be expensive and time consuming but commercial litigation is often the last resort, when other dispute resolution techniques have failed. Most commercial litigators encourage a thorough exhaustion of other alternatives before resorting to a trial. Such alternatives include mediation, arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution. However, sometimes a settlement is impossible and proceeding with trial litigation is necessary.

How much does it cost to hire an Illinois commercial litigation attorney?

The cost of commercial litigation can vary greatly and depends on the complexity of the dispute, the willingness of the parties to negotiate, and the type of fee agreement you establish with your attorney. Commercial litigation attorneys usually bill clients in one of two ways: hourly, or on a contingency basis. In an hourly arrangement, you can expect to pay at least $250/hour, and possibly up to $500 per hour; your case may require 20 hours or 200 hours. For example, if your lawyer charges $250/hour and your case goes through to trial, it may cost you $60k-$80k. In a contingency arrangement, you only pay your lawyer if you win. The lawyer gets an agreed-upon percentage, which in most cases is at least 1/3 of what is recovered (either in court or in a settlement). For example, if you think your case is worth $600k, your attorney would get $200k. You also may have to pay fees for experts, court filings, court reporters, and other costs. Remember, the costs in lawsuit vary depending on the facts of your case and the law firm you hire.

How long does a commercial litigation lawsuit last?

It is not uncommon for a lawsuit to go on for a year or more. Again, it depends on the complexity of the dispute and the willingness of the parties to agree on a settlement. If both sides are willing to compromise, the whole lawsuit could be over in a matter of months. However, many lawsuits take much longer. After the initial lawsuit is filed, both sides are allowed time to file several additional documents before even stepping foot in a courtroom. The discovery phase of litigation – where the parties inspect each other's documents and interview each other under oath – can take months, or more, depending on how much information needs to be gathered. Trial preparation again also can take months, as the parties hash out what evidence or expert witnesses will be allowed. Even if both parties agree to negotiate, reaching a settlement can take anywhere from a day to several months.

If my business is in Chicago, but the defendant is in Waukegan (or any other county), where should a lawsuit be filed?

A defendant, including an individual or a business, can be sued either (1) where they live (or, in the case of a business, anywhere it does business), or (2) where the events leading up to the dispute occurred. If your Chicago business is suing a Waukegan business, you can most likely file the lawsuit in either place. However, you may want to file the lawsuit in Cook County so that you would not have to travel back and forth. Also, take into account that you want a lawyer with experience in the court that is handling the lawsuit; if you file in Cook County, you can hire a local attorney or firm which may be in your best interests.

What is the difference between commercial litigation and other types of litigation?

The term "litigation" is broad and applies to all situations where people take their disputes to court. Commercial litigation is a more specific term that describes disputes about business transactions and relationships, either between two businesses or between a business and an individual. Specific areas of commercial litigation include contract disputes, debt collection, consumer fraud, employment issues, shareholder agreements, copyright and patents, mergers and acquisitions, and product liability.

What is chancery court?

Chancery court does not deal with cases where a party is asking for a monetary award. Instead, it is a court of equity, meaning that it takes cases where money will not solve the problem. For example, you would go to chancery court if you wanted an injunction – a court order forcing someone to do something, or preventing someone from doing something. Chancery court also hears cases such as foreclosures and estate administration. In chancery court, there is no jury; the judge makes the final decision.

What are the time limits for filing a commercial litigation lawsuit?

Time limits apply in most situations, so it is extremely important to see an attorney as soon as you think you have a case. A time limit on bringing a lawsuit is called a statute of limitations. These time limits are strict, and if you don't file suit before the deadline, you are forever barred from doing so. Different disputes have different time limits. For example, if you are suing over a contract, you may have up to 10 years; if you are suing a business because you were injured by one of their products, you may have only two years. Again, consult with a lawyer as soon as possible so that you don't miss your only opportunity.

If you have any other questions or would like our help in finding a lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact us.